Almost 100 people who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience demanding an end to coal exports in the name of climate action faced Magistrate Stephen Olischlager in court this week. He dismissed the charges immediately, explaining those who had taken part in the People’s Blockade of the World’s Largest Coal Port were “not selfishly motivated… intelligent ... and making a real contribution to society."
These are welcome comments, because we know them to be true, and it’s a huge win for these brave people. But it could have been very different. These people like those who have gone before them could have been charged under the State’s anti-protest laws and faced penalties up to $22,000 and or 2 years imprisonment. The anti-protest laws are a draconian and undemocratic relic of the old Coalition government and there is massive and growing pressure on The Premier and the Attorney General to scrap them altogether.
They’re already feeling the heat: when passed, these laws were condemned by over 230 civil society and human rights groups for the chilling effect they would have on civic participation, democracy and protecting the profits of big business over the interests of the people and the planet. Then, last year, the Supreme Court ruled that crucial parts of these laws were entirely unconstitutional.
We have a window of opportunity to reverse the alarming crackdown, pursuit and punishment of protestors and to advocate instead for the protection of this important democratic freedom.
Email the Attorney General and Premier now to urge them to turn back this threat to the democratic right to protest.